Héctor Gómez, during his time as spokesman for the PSOE in Congress, in June 2022.
Héctor Gómez, during his time as spokesman for the PSOE in Congress, in June 2022.Eduardo Parra (Europa Press)

The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, has made official this morning the appointment of Héctor Gómez, former parliamentary spokesman, as the new Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, replacing Reyes Maroto, who will focus from now on recovering the mayoralty of Madrid for the PSOE.

The until now Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, leaves her successor with the task of bringing her biggest project to fruition: the Part of the Electric and Connected Vehicle. This program of grants and loans at 0% interest for projects to transform the automobile industry to electrification, was presented last year with great fanfare by Reyes Maroto as a program that was going to “make history.” However, just one year later, the motor Perte still has 75% of its funds unallocated (some 2,182 million public money) and is pending a second call to try to exhaust them.

Among the reasons that prevented the money from running out in the first call were the complexity required of the projects presented and the limited margin that was given to undertake the investments, which ended in mid-2025. To the companies benefited by Perte , they were asked to present large projects that brought together several smaller initiatives that had an effect on the entire automotive value chain. This, remarked some large companies in the sector, made it difficult to present projects to the Perte, in which they had to go hand in hand with at least 30% of SMEs.

These two aspects, the complexity of the projects and the term to undertake the investments, will be modified in the second call of the Perte, which is expected in the coming weeks. As Industry has promised, there will be a specific line for battery projects, the presentation of individual projects will be allowed and investments can be made until 2028. This last aspect is key so that large companies in the sector such as Stellantis or Ford can benefit from the program to launch their electrification projects.

In the first case, the Amsterdam-based group is waiting for the bases to be presented to find out how much money it would have to bring the STLA production platforms to Spain. As anticipated Five daysStellantis is in talks with the Executive to bring the STLA Small platform, from which all the new small electric models that the company will launch since 2025 will come out. Its arrival in Spain would ensure the industrial activity of the group’s three plants (Zaragoza, Vigo and Madrid) over the next decade.

Ford, for its part, wants to receive funds to electrify the Almussafes plant, Valencia, which is in full negotiation of an ERE in which 1,144 jobs are at risk, 19% of the factory workforce. Reyes Maroto has warned the car company that receiving aid will depend on maintaining jobs at the Valencian factory.

To this we must add other Pertes, such as microchips, to which the Government will allocate 12,250 million of European funds. This sector has proven to be critical, especially after the semiconductor crisis suffered in recent years by the entire industry and, mainly, the automotive sector. The Executive is betting on having at least one national chip factory, a type of plant that requires a lot of money, as well as companies that decide to design and develop their chips in Spain. In turn, more Pertes have been approved, such as naval, aerospace or the decarbonization of the industry, which are pending to see how they develop.

More battery plants and a failed automotive table

During the mandate of Reyes Maroto in the Industry portfolio, the Government tried to carry out initiatives such as the so-called Automotive Roundtable after the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, in which the main employers of the sector sat down. The objective of this table was to define projects that would improve the competitiveness of the motor and deal with the transformation of the sector towards electric mobility. However, after more than two years, no specific measure or initiative was taken from the table. So much so, that Anfac (the employers’ association of car manufacturers), Sernauto (the manufacturers of automotive components), together with the CC OO and UGT unions requested in November last year that the table meet again on a recurring basis and “a practical work plan”.

In this process of transformation of the automobile industry, in addition to manufacturing electric cars, the Government has made attracting battery plants to our country a priority. Currently, Spain, the second largest car producer in Europe, is lagging behind in attracting this type of project and is being surpassed by Germany, Hungary and France. To this day, the largest project is that of the Volkswagen group, which will build a gigafactory with a capacity of 40 GWh in Sagunto (Valencia), and the first stone has just been laid.

The German consortium is joined by the Envision projects, in Naval Moral de la Mata (Cáceres), with 30 GWh; Phi4tech in Badajoz with 10 GWh; and Basquevolt in Vitoria, which will be able to produce, when it reaches its maximum, 10 GWh. Other projects are in the air today, such as Inobat Auto, a company that is studying to invest 3,000 million in a battery factory in Valladolid. Added to this is the interest shown by the Indian manufacturer Tata, which plans to set up a gigafactory in Zaragoza. However, in both cases, the United Kingdom appears as an opponent of Spain to keep the plants. The future minister will have to look for alternatives to attract this type of project to our country.

Diversify the markets of origin of tourists

After the worst crisis in history as a result of the coronavirus, the arrival of foreign tourists to Spain recovered strongly in 2022 and it is very likely, taking into account the balance of the first months, that record highs will be reached at the end of this year. . The challenges facing the new portfolio holder are the same since the Great Recession hit: diversify the countries of origin of tourists and intensify the search for markets with greater purchasing power. Half of travelers continue to come from three countries (United Kingdom, Germany and France) and this makes destinations very vulnerable to crises such as the recent pandemic. The eternal search across Asia and America in search of tourists with greater purchasing power has been frustrated firstly by the strength of the European markets and later by the pandemic and the lack of air connectivity. The employers consider that it is essential to rehabilitate the oldest coastal destinations to make them competitive and for this they had requested a Strategic Project for Economic Recovery and Transformation (Perte) for tourism that was never granted.

“The outstanding vision of height, experience and great memories that he left behind years ago at the helm of Turespaña, together with his high institutional responsibilities as spokesman for the PSOE in the Congress of Deputies, make the figure of Héctor Gómez the most appropriate and with the precise political weight in the Government, to address with guarantee, the challenges and competitive transformations that the sector has pending in the rest of the legislature”, he remarked José Luis Zoreda, Executive Vice President of Exceltur. Among them, he highlighted the gradual repositioning of tourism models in Spain and its destinations “towards the most sustainable scenarios desired by citizens.”

for his partCarlos Garrido, President of the Spanish Confederation of Travel Agencies (CEAV), valued very positively the work carried out by Maroto. “I appreciate your dialogue, very fluid at all times, which has helped us convey the problems that the sector has experienced, especially during the pandemic.” Likewise, he also expressed hope with the appointment of Héctor Gómez. “He is an old acquaintance with travel agencies, we worked a lot with him during his management stage at Turespaña and when he was spokesman for the socialist parliamentary group in Congress. He is a great connoisseur of travel agencies and we look forward to continuing to work with him during this period.”

In the case of the trade portfolio, it will have to deal with the liberalization in relation to the national, before the unstoppable phenomenon of online sales, and with the difficulties that have arisen internationally due to the negative impact of the rise in energy prices. has had on the exponential growth of exports, returning the trade deficit to Great Recession levels. To Maroto’s credit stands out the fact that exports of goods, in one of the worst economic crises in recent history, behaved very dynamically, which has allowed them to reach all-time highs in 2022, close to 390,000 million euros. . In addition, the milestone of exceeding 400,000 million in sales abroad will occur four years in advance and will take place this year and not in 2027 as predicted by the latest Action Plan for Internationalization. Another problem to correct in the future will be the drop in the number of exporting companies, which in 2022 suffered its first adjustment since 2015. The decline occurred among those companies that sold goods abroad for less than 25,000 euros. On the other hand, the statistics of regular exporters (those firms that chain four or more consecutive years selling goods abroad) rose in all export sections.

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